Alappuzha: A tip-off helped police to nab absconding former Students' Federation of India (SFI) Nikhil Thomas from a bus in the wee hours of Saturday. A relative of an SFI leader reportedly alerted police that Nikhil was travelling from Kozhikode to Thiruvananthapuram on a KSRTC bus.
Nikhil who was on the run was arrested from a bus at the KSRTC depot in Kottayam town days after he was booked on charges of submitting a fake degree certificate to secure admission to a post-graduate course at the MSM College, Kayamkulam.
SFI activists, who were taken into custody on Friday, had informed police that Nikhil was hiding in Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram district. Hence, the police raids were focused on there. In the meantime, police received information that Nikhil was travelling through MC Road and started checking vehicles at many places on this route.
It was at 8 pm on June 23 that a relative of an SFI leader in the district informed the police that Nikhil was coming to Thiruvananthapuram from Kozhikode. Following this, three police teams in mufti stopped vehicles at Kottayam, Adoor, and Thiruvalla on MC Road and started checking.
The team led by Kayamkulam inspector Y Muhammed Shafi nabbed Nikhil from an AC low-floor bus at 12.50 am during an inspection of vehicles at the Kottayam bus stand.
Nikhil had taken a ticket for Kottarakkara. It was difficult to identify him, as he was wearing a cap and a mask. He was shocked to see the police team and tried to get up but was immediately taken into custody. He was then taken to Kayamkulam police station in a police vehicle at 2.15 am.
Police suspect that Nikhil, who escaped from Kayamkulam on the night of June 19, went straight to Thiruvananthapuram. He didn't get the help he expected there and hence proceeded to Kozhikode.
He told police he roamed around Kozhikode during the day and rested at the KSRTC stand there at night. The cops are not convinced by this statement.
He decided to return as he ran out of money. He added that though he intended to get down at Adoor, he took a ticket to Kottarakkara, as the bus did not have a stop at the former place.
The police are investigating whether there was anyone to help Nikhil in Adoor. Nikhil's aides in Kozhikode could be identified only after finding his hideout.
Mobile phone yet to be found
Nikhil told cops that he had dumped his mobile phone before going into hiding. His phone was switched off at 7 pm on June 19.
In the formal statement to the police, Nikhil claimed the phone was thrown into the Karipuzha Canal from the bridge at Kayamkulam Park Junction. The police searched the spot but could not find it. CCTV footage of the area is also being examined.
Nikhil likely wanted to avoid the seizure of the mobile phone which might have crucial evidence related to the case.